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Sci-Fi Essentials


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  • The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke: 1937-1999 (Unabridged Selections)

    • UNABRIDGED (12 hrs and 30 mins)
    • By Arthur C. Clarke
    • Narrated By Arte Johnson, Stefan Rudnicki, Harlan Ellison
    Overall
    (598)
    Performance
    (142)
    Story
    (149)

    From early stories like "Breaking Strain," to classics like "The Nine Billion Names of God" and "The Sentinel" (kernel of the later novel and movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey), all the way to later groundbreaking works such as "The Hammer of God" and "Transit to Earth," this volume encapsulates one of the great science fiction writing careers of all time.

    Charles Gousha says: "Know what you're getting"
    Why we think it's Essential: Demonstrating Clarke's mastery of both sci-fi and the short story, this collection ranges from the classic ("The Sentinel" is one of two included stories that inspired 2001: A Space Odyssey) to the unexpected ("Travel by Wire" showcases Clarke's wry and unexpected humor). Along the way, it also showcases a who's-who of expert narrators, from Scott Brick to Stefan Rudnicki. My personal favorite: Michael York and his deadpan delivery on the surprising subversive "Travel by Wire", Clarke's first published work. Anyone wondering if a short story can be a great listen should start here. --Ed Walloga
  • A Clockwork Orange

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 45 mins)
    • By Anthony Burgess
    • Narrated By Tom Hollander
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (824)
    Performance
    (443)
    Story
    (445)

    A vicious 15-year-old droog is the central character of this 1963 classic, a frightening fable about good and evil, and the meaning of human freedom. In Anthony Burgess' nightmare vision of the future, where the criminals take over after dark, the story is told by the central character, Alex, who talks in a brutal invented slang that brilliantly renders his and his friends' social pathology.

    Steve says: "Great book, great narration, but not for everyone"
    Why we think it's Essential: Anthony Burgess' tale of ultraviolent hoodlum Alex and his journey through a totalitarian system of behavior modification has not relinquished its grip on the reader's consciousness in nearly 50 years. Among its many remarkable qualities is the author's intelligent fast-forwarding of language—Burgess was also a linguist—in which he invents a vocabulary of near-future street slang. This aspect can prove a stumbling block in print, as his inspired neologisms are obviously unfamiliar; however, narrator Tom Hollander, with his clear and insightful knowledge of the text, knows how to emphasize them and work them naturally into Alex's monologue. Therefore, they come across with surprising clarity. Spoiler alert: ..
  • Childhood's End

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 47 mins)
    • By Arthur C. Clarke
    • Narrated By Eric Michael Summerer, Robert J. Sawyer
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3063)
    Performance
    (2091)
    Story
    (2124)

    The Overlords appeared suddenly over every city - intellectually, technologically, and militarily superior to humankind. Benevolent, they made few demands: unify earth, eliminate poverty, and end war. With little rebellion, humankind agreed, and a golden age began.

    A User says: "Food for Thought"
    Why we think it's Essential: If you're looking for snappy dialogue and memorable characters, Arthur C. Clarke isn't the writer for you. But if you want a timeless story of ideas, you can't do much better than Childhood's End. Eric Michael Summerer's narration brings a remarkably fresh sound to this timeless, cerebral tale of an alien race that may be offering Earth too much of a good thing. --Steve Feldberg
  • Altered Carbon

    • UNABRIDGED (17 hrs and 10 mins)
    • By Richard K. Morgan
    • Narrated By Todd McLaren
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3266)
    Performance
    (1482)
    Story
    (1490)

    In the 25th century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person's consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or "sleeve") making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.

    Jake Williams says: "Altered Carbon"
    Why we think it's Essential: You could strip this novel down to its essence and get a perfectly adequate noir-ish detective yarn, but Morgan instead transports us half a millennium forward, into a cyberpunk future where the guns are deadlier, the dames are raunchier, and the big sleep itself might be no more than a catnap. With action sequences that would break the budget of a Hollywood blockbuster, this is the kind of adventure story that doesn't leave you much time to think about the fascinating world in which it is set. Narrator McLaren plays our protagonist with the required harder-than-hardboiled flatness and just enough emotion to show that the icy exterior hides the heart of a true pulp hero.--Frank Linkh
  • 1984: New Classic Edition

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 26 mins)
    • By George Orwell
    • Narrated By Simon Prebble
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (3779)
    Performance
    (2344)
    Story
    (2377)

    George Orwell depicts a gray, totalitarian world dominated by Big Brother and its vast network of agents, including the Thought Police - a world in which news is manufactured according to the authorities' will and people live tepid lives by rote. Winston Smith, a hero with no heroic qualities, longs only for truth and decency. But living in a social system in which privacy does not exist and where those with unorthodox ideas are brainwashed or put to death, he knows there is no hope for him.

    Jay Stone says: "Enduring Classic"
    Why we think it's Essential: George Orwell's frightening, soul-crushing vision of a future in which every action is recorded, every thought scutinized, and every free-minded deed punished is an important, influential, even prophetic work—a masterpiece not only of science fiction, but of world literature. This classic recording captures the terse brilliance of Orwell's prose, performed with considerable command and gravity by English actor and veteran audiobook narrator Simon Prebble, whom AudioFile magazine calls one of the best voices of the 20th century. --Corey Thrasher
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